Archive for the 'Archive' Category

We’ve Come a Long Way!

Since 1977 the International Council of Museums (ICOM) has promoted an annual International Museum Day, on or around May 18, to highlight how “museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.” Beginning in 1992, ICOM has created a theme for the annual event. The theme for 2018 is Hyperconnected museums: New approaches, new publics.

With this theme in mind, I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at one of the DMA’s earliest attempts at hyperconnectivity, our forays onto the Internet.

In 1993 the DMA was one of the first museums to go online with a gopher site, a text-based site of menus and documents, and a listing on Compuserve, the first major online services provider. The Museum also acquired two email addresses for staff to use, monitored by library staff members.

DMA website, circa 1994-1998, Homepage

DMA website, circa 1994-98

In January 1994 the DMA launched its first website. The DMA was one of the first five museums to go online with “click and view” access for visitors, presenting 200 images of collection objects. This site was hosted on University of North Texas (UNT) web servers. The DMA site was named one of the 1001 best Internet sites by PC Computing magazine in December 1995.

DMA website, circa 1998-2003, Homepage

DMA website, circa 1998-2003

By 1996, the Museum was outgrowing its UNT site and created an Internet Committee to evaluate the website and brainstorm content and ideas for what the site could be. This work resulted in the launch of a new website on DMA servers with a DMA domain name, DallasMuseumofArt.org, in the summer of 1998.

DMA website, circa 2003-08, homepage

DMA website, circa 2003-08

Since this time, the DMA website has continued to evolve in design and with new technological capabilities. The website underwent major redesigns in 2003, 2008-09, 2013 and, most recently, summer 2017 with the new enhanced Collections Online. All of these redesigns had the goal of providing more content and general information for the Museum’s multiple audiences in an easier-to-use package. DMA.org will continue to evolve with these same goals for future users.

DMA website, circa 2008-13, homepage

DMA website, circa 2008-13

Hillary Bober is the Archivist at the Dallas Museum of Art.

The Mayer Library Collects: Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA

Of the work we do in the library, one of the most enjoyable is collection development…  A.K.A buying books! Materials purchased for the library’s collection primarily support research on the DMA’s encyclopedic collection and exhibitions. One of the most significant areas in which the library collects is exhibition catalogues published by museums and galleries from all over the world. Exhibition catalogues provide current research, photographs, and documentation of works of art, and function as primary sources of historical information for scholars.

A great example of this is the recent purchase of over 20 catalogues from the Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA exhibition program. Pacific Standard Time (PST) is a collaborative program established in 2011 that brings Southern California arts institutions together to present exhibitions on a particular theme connected to the Los Angeles region. Previous iterations were Art in L.A. 1945-1980 and Modern Architecture in L.A. The 2017-2018 PST iteration, LA/LA, explored Latin American and Latino art, featuring art from ancient times to the present across a variety of disciplines.

The catalogues from this series of exhibitions will serve as authoritative resources for the study of Latin American art at the DMA. For example, the exhibition Golden Kingdoms: Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas featured the DMA’s Incan checkboard tunic, which is also discussed in the catalogue (page 172, catalog no. 73).

And there were two career survey exhibitions for artists in the DMA collection: Valeska Soares and Adriana Varejão.

Here are a few more highlights:

You can see a list of all the Pacific Standard Time catalogues held by the Mayer Library here.

The Mayer Library is open to the public. Check the library’s page on DMA.org for current hours.

 

Jenny Stone is the Librarian at the DMA.

A Dallas Arts Patroness . . . Identified

This photo has been popular in Museum histories for a long time. It was used in the book Seventy-Five Years of Art in Dallas: The History of the Dallas Art Association and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts (1978) by Jerry Bywaters; the 90th Anniversary Timeline; and the 2003 Centennial history exhibition, and she has always been identified as a “Dallas arts patroness.”

The panel of the image from the 2003 exhibition currently hangs in the Archives. When curators come down, they always search to see if any of the paintings in the photo are part of the collection, though nothing is familiar. I have always thought that the paintings in the photo were from one of the Dallas Art Association’s (DAA) early annual exhibitions, but I had no idea which one. Then I came across a memo that identified the painting at her feet as an Albert Pinkham Ryder work that was to be part of the 2002 Gilded Age exhibition touring from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. I was thrilled with this clue because now I could search the digitized exhibition catalogues and figure out the exhibition to at least date the photo.

It turns out that the painting in the photo was not the one in the exhibition, but a different Ryder painting of a ship at sea. Using books on Ryder from the library, I was able to identify the work as Ryder’s painting The Waste of Waters is Their Field, now in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum.

Albert Pinkham Ryder (American, 1847-1917). The Waste of Waters is Their Field, early 1880s. Oil on panel, 11 5/16 x 12 in. (28.8 x 30.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, John B. Woodward Memorial Fund, 14.556 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 14.556_SL1.jpg)

With the new information, I could search for this painting in the digitized catalogues. I identified the exhibition as being from the Third Annual Exhibition: American Art from the Days of the Colonists to Now, held by the DAA at the Adolphus Hotel’s Palm Garden, November 16-30, 1922.

By using the exhibition checklist in the catalogue, with a bit of library and internet searching, I was able to definitively identify two of the other works in the photo, with educated guesses on two others. The oval painting is Mother and Child: A Modern Madonna by George de Forest Brush, also in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum.

George de Forest Brush (American, 1855-1941). Mother and Child: A Modern Madonna, 1919. Oil on canvas, 43 1/2 x 35 5/8 in. (110.5 x 90.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Collection Fund and by subscription, 19.93 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 19.93_transp3194.jpg)

The painting leaning on the settee below it is Arthur B. Davies’ Banquet to a Hero, identified from the article “Davies the Absolute” by F. Newlin Price in the June 1922 issue of International Studio.

F. Newlin Price, “Davies the Absolute,” International Studio LXXV, no. 301, June 1922, p. 213-19.

Now I had the exhibition and date, but I still had no idea who the “patroness” was. Time for a different tactic.

The exhibition was curated for the DAA by Robert MacBeth of the MacBeth Gallery, and being a good archivist, I went searching for records from the gallery in hopes of finding a new clue. I found the records at the Archives of American Art. Using the digitized scrapbooks from the MacBeth Gallery Records, I found a whole section of news clippings related to the Dallas exhibition in the 1922 scrapbook.

I was flipping through these pages, when all of a sudden, there was my patroness photo!

MacBeth Gallery Records, Archives of American Art, Scrapbook 8, 1922 January-1924 December.

The photo illustrated the November 13, 1922, Dallas Times Herald article “Noted Concert Singer Delighted Over Collection of Art Treasures in Dallas.” The concert singer is Madame Louise Homer. She knew Robert MacBeth from his New York gallery and he invited her to preview the exhibition while in Dallas for a performance at the coliseum. So, the woman in the photo is technically an art patroness, just not a Dallas one.

The other paintings in the photo are also identified in the article, and I am happy to say that my educated guesses were correct.

This was a fun research project to work on, and happily it resulted in definitive answers and a mystery solved—if only they were all like that.

Hillary Bober is the Archivist at the Dallas Museum of Art. 

Cookie Monster Learns to Weave

Cookie Monster, who was in town for a Sesame Street Live performance, visited the DMA and tried his hand—paw?—at weaving. Cookie Monster’s visit on February 28, 1995, included a lesson in weaving from experts demonstrating the use of looms that were on display in the Gateway Gallery, now the DMA’s Center for Creative Connections, for the exhibition The Art of the Loom.

I hope Cookie Monster brings a smile to your day, as he always does to mine.

Hillary Bober is the Archivist at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Who’s the Boss

Today is national Boss’s Day so we decided to look back on the legacy of one of the DMA’s former bosses, Jerry Bywaters.

Jerry Bywaters with his painting On the Ranch

Jerry Bywaters was the figurehead for the Dallas Nine, a group of artists from the 1930s who all focused on individual styles while working together to present unique aspects of the Texas landscape. Throughout his career, he was an art critic, professor, museum director, and, of course, a Texas artist. From 1943 to 1964, Bywaters served as Director of the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, which would merge with the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts to create the DMA in 1963. He believed museums should be responsible for inspiring and cultivating art within the community, something that is still very important to the DMA today.

Jerry Bywaters, Self-Portrait, 1935, oil on Masonite, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Duncan E. Boeckman in honor of Mrs. Eugene McDermott, 1990.5

The DMA is fortunate to have a number of his works in our collection, including his paintings Share Cropper (1937) and On the Ranch (1941). Celebrate one of the DMA’s bosses with a visit to Level 4 to view Bywaters’, and his contemporaries’, work.

Kimberly Daniell is the Senior Manager of Communications, Public Affairs, and Social Media Strategy at the DMA.

 

Exhibition Throwback

More than fifty years after their Dallas debut, several paintings by South American artists are on view at the Dallas Museum of Art. These works first appeared on the Museum’s walls in 1959 as part of the exhibition South American Art Today at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts in Fair Park (DMFA). Now they reside in the terminus of the Tower Gallery, which formerly housed a portion of México 1900–1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, and the Avant-Garde.

Sue Canterbury, The Pauline Gill Sullivan Associate Curator of American Art, selected thirty works from the Latin American art collection and private collections to fill the walls of this T-shaped gallery. The front portion of the gallery contains twenty works by artists living in Mexico from the 1930s to 1950s.

Perpendicular to this space is the high-ceilinged gallery featuring ten works by South American artists. Eight of these entered the Museum’s permanent collection following their presentation in South American Art Today—an exhibition scheduled during the 1959 State Fair of Texas, when the DMFA’s Fair Park building welcomed thousands of fair-goers.

For the assembly of the show, DMFA Director Jerry Bywaters hired Dr. José Gómez-Sicre, a Cuban art critic and writer who was the Chief of the Visual Arts Section of the Pan-American Union (now the Organization of American States). Following the end of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, public enthusiasm for international solidarity and cultural exchange increased. Though some in the United States still feared the political influences of Communist-controlled countries, Bywaters and DMFA patrons embraced the need to expand awareness of contemporary art practices in South America.

To curate the exhibition, Gómez-Sicre traveled to ten countries and selected works by seventy-one artists. Following the close of South American Art Today, the DMFA purchased sixteen of the works; another four paintings from the exhibition have remained in the collection as long-term loans.

Humberto Jaimes Sanchez, Composition in Blue, by 1959, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase, 1959.57

The eight paintings now on view in the Tower Gallery as part of the Latin American art collection were produced by artists in Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Venezuela, Peru, and Uruguay. In his introduction to the 1959 exhibition catalogue, Gómez-Sicre described his intention for the works to demonstrate that “the creative talents of Latin America have acquired a world vision which enables them to express national themes in subtle accents, rather than by raw, literal reproduction.”

Today visitors can enjoy these works from South American Art Today with the benefit of hindsight on the 20th-century movements that surrounded mid-century artists. The art historical context of Abstract Expressionism is readily apparent. Color, scale, and gestural brushstrokes predominate in this throwback to 1959.

Emily Schiller is the Digital Collections Content Coordinator at the DMA.

Dear Director

Nowadays we dash off a quick email, send a text, and dread writing a thank you note, but handwritten letters were once the common means of correspondence—and not that long ago . . . though being an archivist my idea of concepts like “long ago,” “old,” and “recently” may be a little skewed.

Here are three letters from artists with works in the collection writing to former Dallas Museum of Fine Art and Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts directors. They run the gamut from social commentary to the mundane. I think all of the letters are interesting, though, in how they are informal and hint at the personalities of the people behind the names on museum labels.

The first letter was written by artist Yasuo Kuniyoshi to DMFA director Richard Foster Howard on July 9, 1941.

Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs
Dear Mr. Howard,
I should have written you long ago to thank you for your letter of identification ___ & haven’t had a chance to do so because I have been on move since I left N.Y. the beginning of June.
I am thoroughly enjoying the south-west, working hard, hoping to accomplish something before the summer is over. Here is dramatic scenery and a beautiful climate. I don’t know why more American artists don’t come here to work.
I want to thank you again for your generous letter – it made me feel good – – grateful – Best wishes for the summer.
Sincerely yours, Yasuo Kuniyoshi
July 9

The letter Kuniyoshi refers to is one he asked Mr. Howard to write identifying him as an American painter long in residence in the United States in case he should be questioned by police while sketching outdoors on his south-west tour. He had heard that other artists had been questioned as a result of the “war situation.”

The second letter was written by Thomas Hart Benton to DMFA director Jerry Bywaters on November 1, 1954.

Nov. 1 -54
Dear Jerry,
You may be wondering why I haven’t sent your picture back and, anticipating a possible query, I want to tell you why.
I came back here from Martha’s Vineyard with a commission on my hands which took me to Kentucky for material (three weeks) and which, with a deadline attached, has kept me busy since my return and which will continue to keep me busy for another three weeks or so.
Picture cleaning is tricky business – so give me time. I’ll do your picture up right and you’ll get it back soon enough.
Y— Tom

The picture Benton refers to is unknown.

Finally, here is a letter from Gerald Murphy to DMCA director Douglas MacAgy written on August 5, 1960.

5 : VIII : 60
Dear Donald MacAgy: –
It was good to hear from you. I feel sure that your European trip was successful.
I have heard nothing but the highest praise on all sides regarding the exhibition and the warmest commendation for you in particular for having devised it.
Hank Brennan, who is here, deplores so much that Life was caught napping concerning your exhibition!
Please do let me know when you are to be in NYC this Fall so that the deferred junket of this last Spring to Snedens may be recaptured.
Best wishes for continued success,
Sincerely, Gerald Murphy
PS. Thank you so much for having the clipping sent to me. How much more intelligent ‘art criticism’ is than in the past. I was amazed! GM

Murphy is referring to the DMCA exhibition American Genius in Review: I, May 11–June 19, 1960.

Hillary Bober is the Archivist at the Dallas Museum of Art.


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